“They’re going to take advantage of the learning curve,” said Vijay Samant, a former Merck executive who oversaw the production of three successful vaccines during his tenure. Samant said vaccine manufacturers have had months to work out supply bottlenecks and that manufacturing was always projected to speed up in the coming months — a boon for the Biden administration.
“They may get a lot of credit because all of a sudden vaccine doses are going to become available and it’s, ‘Oh, well, we did it,’ ” Samant said. “Let me tell you, that’s how it works. They’re on the right end of the curve.”
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, sounded similarly optimistic Thursday, predicting that vaccine supply will rapidly increase in February and March. The governor was fresh off a call with Pfizer, during which the company “reiterated their plan to significantly ramp up production in February,” said the governor’s spokesman Max Reiss. Much of that ramp-up is taking place even before the Biden administration makes any moves under the Defense Production Act.
In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Biden’s chief medical adviser expressed confidence in the President’s once seemingly far-reaching goal to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days.
“I feel fairly confident that that’s going to be not only that but maybe even better,” Fauci said, adding that he had looked at the contractual agreements that had been made. “The amount that will be coming in, we will be able to meet that goal.”
Still, questions remain about where US vaccine supply currently stands. The new administration has touted robust federal plans to launch huge vaccination sites and deploy mobile units to hard-hit communities, at the same time some states are canceling appointments at existing vaccination sites, citing a lack of vaccine supply.
Biden’s team has said it’s flying somewhat blind when it comes to the supply of vaccine and how it has been allocated across the country. A source close to the transition told CNN that the Biden team had been denied access to critical resources it needed to accurately gauge the supply and prepare to take over the rollout before Biden took office.
“The cooperation or lack of cooperation funds from the Trump administration has been an impediment,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters. “So we don’t have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations.”
To be sure, there’s still not nearly enough vaccine available — in the US or worldwide — and the US has stumbled at getting shots into arms quickly. But the Biden administration also appears to be trying to manage expectations, playing up the shambles the Trump administration left behind while figuring out what concrete steps it can take to improve vaccine manufacturing and distribution.
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